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Beyond Veganuary

Veganuary may have been a challenge, but Isabel points out that challenges lead to changes for the better. Isabel uncovers what the data about veganuary says and offers encouragement that veganism is possible post-January.


Image Credit: TangerineNewt on Unsplash.

 

Veganuary is an established campaign that runs every January. The reports produced by the Veganuary non-profit organisation provide key insight into veganuary and a starting place to think about what comes next. Whilst the 2024 reports won’t be published by veganuary for another few months, last year’s campaign review and official participant survey contain many interesting nuggets of information on the movement. If you’re looking to find out more about the impact of veganuary beyond January then you’ve come to the right place!


Not everyone will participate in veganuary through the official charity - or even be aware of it. Since 2014, Veganuary has been running campaigns in January to get people to move to a more plant-based diet by getting them to try veganism for a month. It’s now bigger than just individual participation, with many corporations offering veganuary specials. More than 790 new vegan meals were launched in chain restaurants last veganuary, along with over 820 new vegan products. Added to the pre-existing vegan options, veganuary offers more choice than usual to vegans.


Vegan options are found in vegetable stalls year-round such as these mushrooms in Borough Market. Image Credit: Isabel Shaw

 

With all of the new vegan products and menu options in January, there’s no easier time to try going vegan. The support offered by the campaign to those who sign up on their website includes a cookbook and meal plans, as well as further information on the impact of veganism. For those unsure if they have the skills or resources to commit to a fully vegan diet, this could make all the difference in encouraging them to try something new.


Now, as we’re nearly halfway through February, that support may seem a long way away. Is 31 days long enough to truly get into the vegan diet and understand how to make it a sustainable part of your life? In the official survey, 64% of participants admitted they hadn’t strictly stuck to a vegan diet even in January. However, 25% said they were planning on staying vegan post-veganuary. One month of being vegan may not be long, but it may be enough to test out such a big lifestyle change.


For the 25% who want to stay vegan after veganuary, they’ve completed the tough initial step with some support. Persuading family and friends of a more permanent change may be their next challenge; 21% reported dealing with friends and family as their biggest challenge in veganuary. More social support both in January and throughout the year for veganism would help reduce this barrier and could be as simple as sharing recipe suggestions.


Those who don’t maintain a vegan diet for the whole of January, and those who don’t want to turn fully vegan after trying it for a month, still often make a significant change to their diet after veganuary. 72% of those who weren’t planning on continuing with a vegan diet after January said they would still try to reduce their consumption of animal products. Veganuary isn’t just about converting more people to veganism in the long run. Reduction in the amount of animal products we consume could have a massive environmental and animal welfare impact. Creating a space to try out a new diet with extra support introduces people to vegan cookery and vegan products, giving them both the tools and motivation to reduce their animal product consumption in the future.


One of the major tools given to people who sign up officially to veganuary is a recipe book. It’s available year round for free and includes both vegan twists on familiar favourites as well as new surprises. The internet has also never made it easier to find more recipes when looking for some vegan inspiration. Local libraries often have recipe books too for those who prefer to leaf through actual pages. All of these resources may be most popular during veganuary, but they don’t disappear once the month is over.


Homemade vegan white sourdough. Image Credit: Isabel Shaw

 

 Bread remains one of my favourite vegan bakes for its simplicity and versatility. Here above is a basic white sourdough I made last year.


For someone who has always used butter, milk, and eggs, vegan baking can seem like a challenge. The quality of a vegan recipe can easily make or break a bake. Bread aside, most baked goods have traditionally been made with some animal product in them. More alternatives and recipes are making things easier though. Vegan block makes excellent pastry, for instance, and you only need the water from chickpeas to replace egg white in meringue. Veganuary offers a great excuse to start trying these alternatives, and some of them may stick around for the rest of the year.


What is the reason for veganuary’s lasting impact beyond baking then? From the report, we shouldn’t judge its success purely on the number of people who complete the month without eating animal produce, or the number of people who stay vegan once it finishes. Instead, we can look at how it introduces people to veganism, and encourages companies to push veganism into the mainstream. Restricted to January, veganuary offers a challenge and a chance to start something new. Its impact, however, is not constrained to a single month, as the 2023 reports have shown.



About the Author: Isabel is a student who’s been veggie since primary school much to the initial shock, and gradual acceptance, of her family. Currently studying an MA in medical ethics and law, Isabel loves to spend her free time baking bread and reading recipe books.

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